Eighty percent of all reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That makes it all the more important to do everything you can to keep you and other motorcycle riders safe.
Gear up. Wear long pants and sleeves made of leather or another thick, protective material, as well as gloves, eye protection and durable boots that cover your ankles. When it gets colder, don't forget to add layers or invest in heavier gear designed for the temps.
Be seen. Wear bright colors and add reflective elements to both your clothing and bike. Use your headlight, day or night. Ride in the section of lane that makes you most visible to motorists, and if you're not sure a motorist sees you, honk.
Wear a full-face, Department of Transportation-approved helmet at all times — preferably light-colored, for maximum visibility. Without one, you're twice as likely to suffer traumatic brain injury from a crash. Replace your motorcycle helmet regularly (a general rule of thumb is every five years) or after a crash.
Be alert. Texting motorists are, unfortunately, a very real danger, so be ready for sudden lane changes and swerves. Watch for patches of sand, potholes, railroad tracks and other road hazards, as well as fellow motorcyclists.
Beware intersections. Half of all crashes occur at intersections. A motorist turning left in front of you is perhaps the most common cause, so be on high alert so you can respond appropriately.
Never drink or speed. More than 40 percent of motorcycle riders who die in single-vehicle crashes are alcohol-impaired, and speed is at play in more than a third of fatal crashes. Staying sober and observing the speed limit go a long way to ensuring you'll arrive safely at your destination.
Avoid bad weather. Study up on safe ways to ride in the rain, wind, or whatever type of challenge Mother Nature tends to offer in your particular locale, in case you get stuck in it. If rain is in the forecast and you have to ride, pack rain gear to stay dry and comfortable.
Get schooled. If you're a new motorcyclist, take a motorcycle safety course. It's a good idea for experienced riders to take refresher courses, too. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers classes online and in person — some of which could net you an insurance discount.
A heads-up for motorists: Collisions with motorcycles are usually the non-motorcycle driver's fault. Remember, motorcyclists have the same rights as other drivers. Check your blind spot, signal your intentions and avoid distractions.